Over 26 million k-12 students are transported on school buses daily in the United States and 1.5 million of those students are riding Pennsylvania school buses. Safety and transportation experts often report that school buses are safe and that accidents and injuries are rare, but that is no comfort to the families and friends of the people who die or are injured in school bus accidents each year.
Students can be injured as bus passengers in an accident, but students are also injured entering, exiting, and waiting for the bus. Other vehicles are required to stop for school buses when they are stopped to let students off of the bus, but sometimes they fail to stop and students are injured as a result. Students are not the only bus accident injury victims, however. Other victims may include pedestrians, bicyclists, and other vehicle occupants. School bus accident injuries can be devastating and fatal for several reasons including that they usually do not have safety belts to restrain passengers, buses are large and massive causing severe injuries to those who collide with the bus, and rollover accidents are more frequent with school buses due to their structure and design.
Causes of school bus accidents often include the following:
Not enough supervision to keep students under control
Alcohol or drug impairment
Bus driver fatigue
Hours of service violations
Poor weather conditions
Impaired bus driver visibility due to size and design of the bus and large blind spot areas
There are a number of parties that can be found liable for school bus accidents. Those parties may include:
The school district or other government entity bus owner
The school bus contracting company
The bus driver
The bus manufacturer
The driver of another vehicle involved in the accident
Party responsible for road maintenance if poorly maintained roads caused or contributed to the accident
If the school bus driver’s fault caused the accident, it is also important to look to his or her employer to see if there was any negligent conduct involved in driver hiring, driver training, or school bus maintenance. Important facts to investigate and questions to ask include: Was school bus driver properly screened for drug use and were proper background checks conducted regarding his or her driving and criminal history? Did he or she go through required safety training? Was he or she properly licensed? Did the driver and employer comply with government rules and regulations? Was the bus properly maintained and were safety inspections conducted?